Clothing the Low Countries

Researching & Re-creating Flemish and Netherlandish clothing from 1480-1620

2015? 2015!

After 8 months of no updates I suppose an update is well over-due. Also, welcome to the new site!

That’s the first update – sewing time turned into site creation time. I’m really excited about this new guise, with a co-author (yay!) and the ability to do more interesting things now that we’re self-hosted. For instance, I’ve worked out how to do galleries, so that’s made some of the resources more interesting, and better designed. You can see them in the updated Leiden style pages, as well as the gallery of all my projects and all of Margaret’s projects.

Men’s clothing

two men in 15th century clothing standing in front of a tent

At La Prova Dura tournament in Adelaide, photo by Holly Taylor, used with permission. G is in the blue – not the herald.

As planned in May, I did spend much of last year slowly working on an early 1500s yeoman’s ensemble for G, as seen in the picture on the left. I’m quite happy with the cut and some of the design decision, including the genius solution to the twin problem of G wanting LOTS of shoulder mobility (he does an weight lifter impression every time I ask him to test if he’s happy with a garment, as if that’s one of his usual poses…) and me cutting the armscrye too large – sleeves attached at only the top point of the shoulder! You see this in a number of artworks from this era, and they were so easy to make! It’s still a curved sleeve head, but only the top inch of the sleeve is attached, by whip-stitch.

He wore it all weekend with nary a complaint – so that’s a bonus.

The garment is based on a variety of images of men in France in the 1490s and 1500s. One of the best ones is a gentleman in the background of this image of Anne of Brittany:


Poetic Epistle of Anne of Brittany and Louis XII. Illuminated by Bourdichon. F. 58v: Illustration to Epistle 5. Early 16th century. From “Western European Illuminated Manuscripts 8th to 16th Centuries”

Image from scan by Kimiko Small, I do own this book and it has some great sources for the turn of the 16th century in France and the Low Countries – get a copy if you can.

It’s made of linen lined with damask cotton, to give the weight of wool but to not overheat someone who already has a high internal thermostat. It’s closed with hidden lacing rings running up the centre front seam. The skirt is a circle.

Dabbling in the 14th Century

The other thing we did last year was join a 14th century living history group: The Company of the Staple, known for their excellent research into 14th century crafts, and their excellent food. They portray English merchants in Calais, which is ostensibly in the Low Countries so that’s alright 😉

We pledged to help out with a major medieval show in September so that meant I delved back into my early roots – cotehardies. It was heaps of fun, and a cotehardie is so much easier to churn out than a pleated skirt kirtle – if you don’t mind multitudes of eyelets. This is me in the pink dress in the background, doing crowd control in the drizzle at 8am, with my friends Annabel and Jon (our musican and herald respectively).

What a day for a #medieval #faire @tegan_brown @lenasax #stivesmedieval #prlife

A photo posted by 💁 (@lisa_b_1) on

I also made G a pair of separated wool hose, which was a fun adventure as well. They worked for most of the weekend, but somehow I’d cut the ankle as a curve rather than a straight and so they slowly worked their way under his heel over the course of the weekend. That’s now fixed. Also, I now understand the need for a long apprenticeship in men’s hose – they’re tricksy things to make. Now we have that pattern sorted, and the shorts pattern sorted, maybe I can combine them for the 15th & 16th century joined hose.

One year after peerage – whereto from here?

This morning facebook kindly reminded me that it is my anniversary of joining the Order of the Laurel in Lochac, which has led to an impetus to communicate some thoughts swirling around in my head for a while – “what’s been happening” and “what now?” and “whereto for this site?”.

These thoughts also coincide with the various posts around the costume blogosphere on the myth of perfection and choices around online privacy. Jen Thompson’s post alluding to not posting as much because of life struck a chord. Not that my life has been sad for the past year, more that it’s been a year of re-grouping on the historical craft front, and serious increase of career opportunity, which has led to a reduction in feeling like I had a space to discuss my thoughts as they were not specifically on-topic for this blog, or in the case of more academic explorations, would not live up to my vision of where I’d like them to be.

So, then, in order:

What’s been happening?

In March last year I got a new role with the Department I work for, and it’s been amazing! A return to the job I want rather than the job that pays the bills and is OK. This means that the creative energy and project management energy that found an outlet through SCA activities has been absorbed into this space instead. I come home and don’t want to write costume plans, or send admin emails, or organise large costume sew-a-longs for my Barony, since my new job involves wrangling people across my branch into doing things that are part of their job, but not the primary focus of their job.

At the same time I’ve been deepening my understanding of research that impacts on the topic of this blog. Reading through editions of Medieval Textiles and Clothing journal, reading articles on the Northern Renaissance trying to understand its beginnings and boundaries, it’s uniqueness and it’s overlap with the Italian Renaissance. I’ve been reading about the life of Margaret of Austria, and some of the other powerful women in Europe at this time. There are a lot of them, they’re just not English so we English speakers don’t hear about them as much.

I’ve been learning to read French (and a bit of Dutch). I was learning both concurrently, but even my brain decided that was too many new symbols to be learning at the same time, and most of the primary documents I will want to read in the near future will be in French – as that was the language of the Burgundian and Netherlandish Hapsburg court, and I want to look at French scholarship around that court. Dutch can wait until next year.

I’ve gained three apprentices, and I’m really, really enjoying being their friend and mentor. They’re all very different and wonderful in different ways. Kim makes tasty historical food and blogs about it at Turnspit and Table, as past of the Historical Cook Fortnightly, as well as being a good seamstress. Safiya is the A&S officer for her College, and finding her feet in terms of A&S but is deeply interested in Persian clothing (whole new research area! Yay!), and Anna (the College’s previous A&S officer) joined us two weeks ago and is going gangbusters on German Women’s clothing of the same period that this blog covers, with a goal to have a complete outfit or two for Pennsic.

I’ve been focussing on my health. At the end of last year I was sick one week in four for about four months, which was unpleasant, and in general my fitness had suffered for my art. I’m now doing pilates two nights a week in an effort to get my strength back up to the point that running seems like an achievable thing again. Pilates has been AMAZING, and I encourage anyone with a sedentary hobby and job to invest in a good class to counteract the hours sitting and stitching.

I’ve also been focussing on our home and ways it can work better for us. We’ve now been in that place for 4 years, when the original plan was 2 years only, and I can’t see us moving for at least another 2. This means there are a variety of rooms that need to be re-arranged, things to be thrown out or re-organised, such as my crafting space and fabric stash. Most of it is now in boxes sorted by type, rather than in odd piles where-ever there was room. My craft table still needs a bunch of work though, so it’s actually useful.

I’ve set up a new crafting circle, as the one that I was part of during my formative years in costuming is now no longer able to meet on a regular basis. On reflection I realised how valuable this had been to me and to refinement of my skills and I want to be able to offer this to my apprentices. Since there’s no space in my apartment for more than two people to craft at the same time, I’ve joined forces with the Company of the Staple, who do amazing research and reproduction of the late 1370s,  for regular sharing of knowledge, skills and pizza. This should accelerate the production back up to 2012 levels.

What now?

Men’s clothing. My kit is (mostly) up to scratch, but my partner’s could do with some work (I’ve previously written about his excellent woolen shorts). I’ve got a 1520s suit cut out, with a goal to have it completed for an event in July.

Better accessories for me. Shoes, purses, hose, smocks etc. I’ve got enough gowns and hats, but could improve these aspects of my kit.

A 14th century outfit for each of us. I might occasionally want to play with the aforesaid Company of the Staple (because they have the magic combo of being excellent people who make amazing food) and as they are a living history group then an outfit up to their standards by September is one of my goals. Both for me and my partner.

Costume goals notwithstanding, the answer to “what now?” is to continue to re-balance my life, continue to revel in the new career direction and continue to return to being fit. It’s been really interesting and useful to pull back, re-assess and re-balance after a couple of years of intense immersion in this hobby.

Whereto for this site?

This has been tossing around in my head for a while. I feel like the site’s at a cross-roads.

It could continue to be the place where I document my costume projects, but I suspect they’re going to be less frequent and start to be not quite as specific to the Low Countries in 1480-1530.

It could become a definitive resource site for Renaissance Clothing in the Low Countries, but that would take a lot of work and who am I to claim that role as a non-native, historically trained but not professional historian? I set that goal for the site at the end of 2014, but then work became more involved than it had been for a number of years.

It could become a hub for various Low Countries costumers across the internet, but first I’d have to find them and do a bit of work on engagement and collaboration (which is pretty much what my day job is all about).

In the end it will probably morph into a balance of all three.

Some decisions have been made, for instance sometime in June/July this site will get a dedicated URL and move off the platform, so that we can do some interesting things with it. I’ll be introducing some new aspects to the range of topics covered by the blog which I hope will be interesting and start it on the path to fulfilling the second and third options.

Which leads me to: what would you like to see on this site? What do you value the most? What gaps do you wish it could fill in your interest or knowledge? Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

An overview of Charles V and the HRE

I firmly believe that if you want to understanding the clothing people wore in a particular time and place, then you have to understand the cultural milieu in which that clothing was worn. For the past year or so I’ve been spending a lot of time reading up on the material culture of the Low Countries and Western Europe in general at the turn of the 16th century, I’ve also been delving into the politics and dynasticism of the rulers of the Low Countries at this time – the Hapsburgs.

Recently one of my favourite YouTube channels, Crash Course, released a 10 min video covering the reign of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, on the nature of his empire, his rule and some of the troubles he had in governing such a large territory. As with all Crash Course videos I highly recommend it.

There’s also a video on the Spanish Empire, Silver and Runaway Inflation and one on The Renaissance, Was it a Thing? which is a question I’m grappling with right now.

Finally, a costuming related question: check out the painting at 5:46 and help me identify it, as I’m intrigued by the hairstyle of the woman in the foreground. Is it an actual painting from the time, or a Victorian romantic nostalgia piece?

That old chestnut…

I’m sure there’s some golden rule of craft blogging – the moment you write a long “I’m going to do all these things!” post then somehow life conspires to ensure doesn’t happen and the blog goes quiet. So, ummm, yeah…

In short: winter happened. August in Sydney was mostly grey and rainy and cold, which often means that I go into hibernation, and we also had a bunch of social commitments on back-to-back weekends that meant that the extensive prepping that’s required to kick off my bigger sewing projects didn’t happen. And then I got sick for 2 weeks – a horrible, I just want to sleep exhaustion, which I’m still shrugging off. Again, not so conducive to the planned projects.

So, here’s some in-progress pics of a couple of things I did work on:

1. A shoe

My first ever shoe – still to be turned

I started on my first ever pair of handmade shoes, blithely insisting that it would only take a weekend… to the amusement of an experienced shoe making friend.

The picture above is the finished left foot, still to be turned. I’m 2/3 of the way through the right foot, although it’s not been touched since mid August. Maybe this weekend…

Then the plan is to get some pattens made, and have a late “Great Outdoors” HSF 14 challenge entry.

2. A woven napkin

One of the events we attended in August offered a 2 hour “weave your own napkin” workshop. It was very therapeutic, and I’m really happy with the results. It still needs to have its edges finished and then to be fulled in warm water. Task for October methinks. Certainly before Fields of Gold (the next major event we’re going to)

First ever non-tablet-woven item, with beginnings of first ever piece of German brick stitch embroidery

3. A piece of German brick stitch embroidery

I’ve been wanting to try this embroidery style for YEARS, but never had the chance. At the same event that the weaving workshop occurred I offered to run a “let’s work out how to do this stitch together” workshop, which was great fun, and meant I actually started. You can see the beginnings of it in the above photo.

I turned up with a kit for participants worth $15, including even weave linen fabric and 3 packets of silk thread, and some patterns printed from and then we started, helping each other through assumptions, techniques and trouble shooting. This style is not very appropriate for 1500s Low Countries gear, so will probably be gifted to someone.

4. Re-making a kirtle


This needs to be remade…

In 2012 I made a 1480s style kirtle out of some gorgeous gold linen, and apart from that obligatory magical first yay it’s finished! wearing I’ve never been entirely happy with it.

The sleeve head is too large for the armscrye, I’m a bit over the train which needs to be tucked up (part of the design), I want a couple of contrasting colours in there, the back is pleated in a weird way with a longer that necessary back waist seam, I boned the front edge incorrectly and the lining doesn’t work for me. But I love the linen and the cut through the bodice and I think it’s salvageable. So I pulled it apart. Entirely.

I’ve since purchased a burnt orange lining fabric, and a fawn coloured brocade to create a deep edge on the hem, and as soon as I have time to lay it out then it will be cut out, sewn back up again and become the late entry for the Yellow HSF 14 challenge. And a dress that I can love again.

HSF – the rest of the year, challenges 13-24

Following the recent wrap-up of the first 6 months of the Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014, I started to think about the remaining six months of challenges. Here’s my current ideas/plans:

#13 Under $10 – a pair of sleeves (already completed, will write it up this week)
#14 Paisley and plaid – no entry, not a popular 15th or 16th century choice
#15 The Great Outdoors – A pair of turn shoes and accompanying chopines/pattens
#16 Terminology – something made from linen
#17 Yellow – remake the mustard gown, sleeves, take out lining, make into a round gown
#18 Poetry in motion – an outfit based on Three Country Dances by Thomas Hobcroft
#19 HSF inspiration – no idea yet. Time to trawl the albums and get inspired
#20 Alternative Universe – no entry
#21 Re-do – Probably #9: Black and White, as I want to make a smocked shirt for a friend
#22 Gentleman’s Attire – a Yule Feast outfit for my other half, which will definitely include a doublet, and may include the gown I started and abandoned for Midwinter. Depends on his desires, really
#23 Modern History – Probably a blouse, from my Grandmother’s pattern cutting book. Quite excited by this idea, actually doing some “modern” sewing for a change.
#24 All that Glitters – Not sure yet, a girdle for my court gowns? Something for Yule Feast for myself?

Quite an inspiring and challenging, but not overwhelming list!

Mens fitted stocks (HSF#12 – Shape and support)

IMG_6890I’ve switched my focus a little from women’s clothing to men’s, partially thanks to the variety of illuminations that I now have access to, and partially as I need to clothe my other half in better gear than the stuff I made him in our first years back in Australia.

One of the items he will need for a turn of the 1500s ensemble is a pair of fitted hose to be tied to his doublet. This item of clothing was ubiquitous in the late 1400s, the jeans of the day. They were tightly fitted to the legs, and shaped the legs and buttocks to some extent. The hose were closed at the front with a codpiece which was padded to achieve a variety of fashionable shapes that shifted over the decades.

I’ve tried to make these in one hit from hip to toe twice before and it’s just not worked, as there are so many stress lines and points of peculiarity in this item. This includes one occasion where I worked with a commercial pattern, and the bias twist lines still didn’t work for me.

Instead, after making knee-high hose for myself I decided to split the hose into two parts initially to stress test how to make them, and then join both parts together into one item later. This article is about the upper stocks that I made as part one of this theory. The other part will be a pair of separate 14th century hose which I’ll be asking an experienced male costuming friend to help me with.

Evidence for Upper Stocks?


Imprisonment of Joan of Arc, Martial d’Auvergne, Viglles de la mort du roy Charles VII, fol.e;r. Lyons 1496-97. Sourced from Anne van Bruchem, Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands, 1325-1515

The use of separate upper stocks in the last decade of the 1400s is conjectural. We have an extant pair of tight upper hose from Italy in the 1520s, and a set from Germany are shown in the Tudor Tailor. I also found an image of an item from the late 1490s that could be a man wearing separate upper and nether stocks over his hose, specifically the gentleman entering the door in the image at right. The separation of the lined section from the smooth section in the upper thigh, along with the turned-over and draped section on the calf, suggest to me that these could be two separate items.

Just the Facts

The Challenge: Shape and Support

Fabric: Felted wool, and linen

Pattern: Cut off version of the Tudor Tailor’s hose. Codpiece self drafted.

Year: 1496

Notions: None

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is correct for full-length joined hose of the late 1400s, whether they were ever cut off is debatable (see above)

Hours to complete: Approx 20 hours

First worn: Lochac Midwinter Coronation, 5 July 2014

Total cost: This was made from remnants in my stash, the brown wool was the same as that used for the dress in the Pink Challenge, and the linen edging was from my box of cabbage. Probably $20 all up.

The final item

The final item


An update

Looking through recent posts, most of them have been related to the Historical Sew Fortnightly. But there’s lots of stuff happening behind the scenes:

Reading. I’ve often got many books on the go at once. Currently I am reading:

  • Rethinking the Renaissance: Burgundian Arts Across Europe – I’m LOVING this book, it’s thesis is that the Burgundian arts were high status in the 15th century, but we’ve forgotten this because of a couple of Italian Art history books from the 16th century and the traditional art history framework they set up. I’ll be using this text for parts of a research paper I am currently writing (see below)
  • Fashion in the Middle Ages – this had some lovely illuminations in it that I’d not seen before, including a set of images of Alexander the Great with women wearing fantastical turbans, more evidence that these were a specific art motif, rather than an actual item commonly worn
  • Medieval Textiles and Clothing Vol 3
  • Museum of London: Textiles and Clothing c.1150-.1450 – Thought it was time I finally read this text.
  • Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance – looks at the culture of conspicuous consumption in the 1400s and 1500s, a great chapter on the history of book production, but I really loved the chapter on the impact on trade of the Turkish take-over of Constantinople and the cosmopolitan nature of trading in this era. It’s given me a whole new perspective on some of the things I see in pictures from the time.

Learning French via Duolingo, as I’d eventually like to be able to read academic articles in French

Looking at men’s clothing for the same place & time as this blog, also looking at shoes and pattens.

Related: Making warm court garb for my boyfriend, including a long scholar’s gown, and a pair of transition era “hot pants”

Some Calligraphy and Illumination, for the first time in 8 years. Loved the meditative aspects of this

Launched a new A&S challenge series for my Barony, with a new A&S newsletter

Started writing an essay response to HSF#11: Politics of Fashion,as it didn’t fit my project schedule, but is very interesting

Coined a term to situate this work, and its place in similar research/costuming: Post-Burgundian Franco-Flemish transition style. I’ve been trying to find a term I’m happy with for a while, as “Tudor” is too anglo-centric for a blog on the Low Countries, “Transition Era” begs the question: “transition from what to what, or when to when” whereas Post-Burgundian Franco-Flemish talks to the continuity of the transitional nature of the style and that it is seen in both the French and the Flemish courts.

Wrote a page on my Historical Sew Fortnightly posts to date, quite a satisfying list.

HSF #10 – Art

I had plans for this one, and then Challenge #8 and the Laurelling took over my project plans and so those plans didn’t eventuate. This is probably a good thing as how many gowns does one woman need to turn out on a regular basis anyway?

However, as I surveyed my recent work I realised that I built the perfect entry for this category for that ceremony, namely the Formal Black Hood (aka French Hood) that I wore. This was not part of a UFO, it was started after Festival (April 2014) and completed for the event on 17 May, and one of the reasons that I love it is that it looks (almost) exactly like a couple of illuminations from the period that I used as inspiration for it’s overall design and construction.

My construction method for this hood is part of the post on the overall outfit (go and have a read if you’d like to know more about this), so this post will be about this specific style of “French Hood”.

But first a note on the usage “French Hood”. This would be me ascending my soap-box.

Is the term “French Hood” Anachronistic?

Ask most Renaissance costumers what a French Hood is and they will talk about the Tudor Court, they might mention Anne Boleyn bringing it from the French Court and making it popular and it will often be contrasted with the English Gable Hood. All of which is fine and dandy – if you’re recreating English clothing of the early 1500s. (All of this is reflected in the very short article on wikipedia)

What if you’re not? What if we acknowledge that England wasn’t the cultural powerhouse that it became in the 1800s, and so reading European History through the lens of an English viewpoint is problematic? And, what if we acknowledge that the “French Hood” wasn’t actually exclusively French?

This is what I started to do a couple of years ago, as I turned up example after example of this hood as the ubiquitous headwear of well-to-do women across a large part of Western Europe, not just France. It appears in the Low Countries, especially in Bruges. It appears in Spain, with both of the famous Tristamara princesses being painted in it.  It appears in Denmark. It changes over time, and it varies subtly by region/court influence.

Anne van Bruchem wrote a book on clothing in France and the Low Countries during this period. At the end of the book is an extensive glossary of terms with quotes and translations from the original French. At no point does she refer to this item as a French Hood, or even hood, but instead as a coif with some sort of fabric over the top of it.

In the end I think we need to distinguish between the highly stylised and sumptuous item worn at the Tudor Court and the more simple and subtle item worn in France, Spain, Denmark and the Low Countries. While they are related I do not think they are the same and conflating them has muddied the research waters.

After all of this I have decided to call this item the Formal Black Hood, to reduce the anglo-centric nomenclature and to distringuish this item from the item worn in the Tudor Court.

This Formal Black Hood in Art

I surveyed a bunch of images before making this hood, looking at all the variations on shape and colour and drape. In the end the image that inspired me the most was this one:

The Golf Book f. 21v, April

I’ve always loved this image, and once upon a time I had a drop of blue wool in exactly this colour that I was planning to turn into this dress. One day…

Here’s a suite of images of my hood and I am pleased to say that I nailed the shape and drape. There is another image in the Golf Book that shows a gold band in front of the black hood, and the under cap is made of red silk, so I can dress it down for less formal occasions. My choice of a gold braid on the under cap was made based on materials to hand a gift of pearls from another Lochac Laurel with a request to use them in my elevation outfit somehow. I am happy with the effect, especially that back view.

3 views of the hood

3 views of the hood

Just the facts:

The Challenge: #10 Art. Attempt to replicate hoods from the Golf Book painted in the Bruges in the 1520s.

Fabric: Cotton velveteen, linen, dupion silk, printed silk

Pattern: Entirely self-drafted

Year: 1520s

Notions: Fresh water pearls, Faux gold braid, gold spangles, 1mm gauge wire, rayon cord finger-loop braided in a spiral fashion

How historically accurate is it? Quite. Replace the faux gold braid with some crimped cloth of gold and this would be fine. I didn’t have access to cloth of gold at the time, so this was a good compromise.

Hours to complete: 6-ish

First worn: Rowany Baronial Investiture, May 17 2014

Total cost: Most of this was from stash, and I didn’t keep track of the rest. I guesstimate that someone else could make this for around $50AUD, depending on suppliers and availability of materials.

A 1520s Franco-Flemish Gown and Hood

Adjusting my sleeve during the pre-event trial wearing of the outfit

Adjusting my sleeve during the pre-event trial wearing of the outfit

Over Easter I was asked to join the Order of the Laurel, and made a decision to be elevated at Rowany Baronial change-over four weekends later, i.e. last night. This decision was made easier by the fact I had a dress close to completion which I didn’t finish for Yule Feast last year. With 4 weekends  I knew I had time to do the dress justice and to build a new hat to go with it.

I finished the dress in time for the Historical sew Fortnightly’s Challenge #8 Unfinished Objects and Projects Half-Done, but didn’t post it within the 2 weeks of the challenge due date. I’ll be including it as a late entry, as I didn’t want to reveal until the event.

I also had time to build a new Formal Hood in the Franco-Flemish style. Whilst the image that I used as the inspiration for the dress showed the figure wearing a haube and a tellerbarrett in the German style, I felt this wasn’t a good reflection of the work I was being recognised for.

The Dress

The dress is based on a figure in the foreground of the a tapestry from the 1520s: David Sees Bathsheba washing. This figure has that lovely cultural cross-over that is one of the things that attracts me to Netherlandish clothing of this time period: A Franco-Flemish gown with German slashed sleeves laced in a Spanish style.

I made the dress from a gift of teal velvet from a dear friend. It is fully lined in a navy jacquard that gave it a lovely weight, especially through the skirt. The bodice is interlined with canvas, and a layer of batting to soften the front. It is edged with a bias strip of black satin. The skirt is open at the sides, and edged in a bias strip of gold twill-woven silk which was the perfect colour and so wonderfully soft.

Decoration applied to the side of my skirt

Decoration applied to the side of my skirt

The edge of the skirt is caught closed at 3 points with some large buttons, and then there is a cluster of semi-precious stones sewn on every 2 inches: 4 faux pearls and a garnet. The inspiration for this arrangement came from this close-up of a decorated hem in a painting by Jan van Eyck. I am not as rich as this figure, nor am I a saint (I suspect the detail is from a hem of a saint), so I chose to simply lift the flower motif from along the bottom edge. I was really happy with the result – elegant, a little surprising and it fit just right with the overall dress.

The skirt is cut with a foot long train – nowhere near as long as the dress in the tapestry, but a train as long as the one in the tapestry would not have been functional in terms of not being trodden on by everyone else at the event. Also, I am not portraying royalty, nor am I waiting upon them, nor am I a Royal Peer, so a train that long is inappropriate for my station. The pleats are stuffed with rolls of batting, as per an idea from The Queen’s Servants. I’m very happy with how those pleats worked as a result.

Underneath I am wearing a burnt orange linen skirt, paired with my general purpose lightly boned stays which provide support and the gentle curve through the bust that you see on dresses of this era. Ideally I’d have worn a full kirtle under the dress, but decided years ago that life is too short to make a boned kirtle to go with every gown and instead made a boned bodice in white that does me for all gowns, and I make a skirt to go with each dress.

The Hood

The hood is the result of one of the those Eureka! moments that occurs every so often. I gave a class at Rowany Festival on Women’s headwear of this era and so spent a few weeks cataloging various images and ideas that I had access to. Then it all came together when I realised that this extant linen cap from Italy in the early 1500s plus this extant wire oorijzer from the 1530s equals something similar to the caps on these ladies which I think are worn under the formal hoods of this era.

Here’s my first quick test of that theory:

The first test of the theory was successful

The first test of the theory was successful

Which was successful, and so I proceeded to build a formal hood based on this idea. It has 4 parts to it

  • An oorijzer
  • A red silk cap lined in linen, and edged with a woven gold lace and some pearls gifted to me at Rowany Festival. This has two triangle pockets on teh inside front corners, which the oorijzer is tucked into.
  • A strip of bronze foil printed silk backed with interfacing, lined with linen. One edge was finished with a 4 loop fingerlooped braid. This was pinned to the undercap to emulate the 3 layers that I see in images without bulking out the hood
  • A velvet hood with a flattened liripipe, lined in linen, with gold spangles  along the front edge, and this same edge was also finished in a 4 loop fingerlooped braid.
The 4 elements of this hood

The 4 elements of this hood

It is all held together with 3 pins (plus those used to secure the bronze band to the undercap), one at each corner of the velvet hood to attach this to the undercap, and one at the Crown of the head for extra stability, although this is only for extra security as the tension of the pieces, plus the friction from the linen keeps it together very well.

The hood on its own, liripipe outstretched

The hood on its own, liripipe outstretched

The thing I love about it the most is that it is simple, it’s elegant, it is easy to put on, it stays on my head, and it’s based on two extant items and a long visual history of women wearing hoods.

By the time of my ceremony it had slipped back slightly, but still looked fabulous:

During my ceremony. Photo by the lovely Amanda Swadling

During my ceremony. Photo by the lovely Amanda Swadling

I’ll post up dimensions for all these items soon, so you can make one as well if you like. I highly recommend this construction.

I’ll also post up a gallery of the dress as soon as I get some more photos back.


Hovetcleet Research Paper

“The Ill-Matched Lovers” from the studio of Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, late 15th century

“The Ill-Matched Lovers” from the studio of Jacob
Cornelisz van Oostsanen, late 15th century

As promised back in February, here’s the 20 page research paper on the history, varieties and potential construction of the Hovetcleet (know in modern Dutch as a sluierkap).

It includes a visual survey of the change in the style of this item from the 1480s-90s through to the 1570s, as well as construction notes on the two versions that I have made in the past.


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